Chapter 11 – Remote Wooing
Frying Pan – Safe
As happy as Sookie was at Eric’s letter, the reality of what today was came crashing down on her and Hunter: Marjorie’s last day at the hospital. She tracked Hunter’s thoughts through breakfast and knew he was really hurting about his friend. Deciding to forget what was happening the next day, she instead formed a plan to make the most of right now. The first task was getting the nurses and other parents on board for moving the kids to the playroom for lunch. Next she called Hoyt to see if he could coordinate some guests from Bon Temps – he agreed of course. Lastly, she called Sam and after talking through the little tiff they’d had the night before, she asked him for a favor to which he agreed. Everything was in place.
Once her friends arrived, they got to work in the playroom while Gramma Fortenberry stayed with Hunter. He was pretty excited for what was turning out to be a party and was talking Gramma’s ear off. Before Sookie left the room though, Maxine asked about the new chain she noticed around Sookie’s neck. When Sookie pulled it out Maxine just started gushing about Eric. Her approval of him was quite evident.
As soon as Sookie told the nurses they were ready, they started moving the kids to the room. With the help of the other parents and the Bon Temps folks, they’d added purple and pink balloons covering the ceiling, special tablecloths (Marjorie’s beloved Disney Princesses), and a Princess centerpiece. Sam and Terry had brought in favorites from Merlotte’s and yes, Hunter was going to get a treat and eat whatever he wanted. To add to the party atmosphere, Hoyt and Lala were setting up to play the piano and guitar for the kids with Sookie. Marjorie’s face: eyes and a smile – that’s all you could see and it made Sookie’s day.
While they were still partying in the playroom, Sookie’s phone rang. Just about everybody that would call her was in the room, so she was surprised when she checked the caller ID and saw Eric’s name – it wasn’t even 3PM.
“Hi. This is a surprise.”
“Timezone. It’s after 3:30 here.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. We’re having a party here.”
“I hear that. What’s the party for?” He was worried he’d missed a birthday or something, but she surprised him. “It’s a party ‘cause it was a good day to have one. I called Hoyt and Lala to help me with music and Sam came with Terry to cater a lunch. Hunter is in heaven because he’s getting to eat a salty burger.”
It dawned on him that Marjorie was leaving the hospital and it would be just like Sookie to organize something like this. “Is it a princess party?”
“You catch on fast. I thought it was the better way to spend the day.”
“Good idea. Do you need help covering the catering?”
“Sam offered but the parents and I insisted so we all just contributed, even the nurses, so we’re good.”
“Is Hunter busy? I won’t get chance to talk to him later or tomorrow since I’ll be in meetings or he’ll be in dialysis.”
Her heart lurched at his comments. It was obvious he didn’t like the idea of not talking to Hunter for that many days in a row – and he denied being sweet – liar. “I’ll move him into the hall so he can hear you but before that – I really love my necklace.”
“I was thrilled when I found it, well the idea of it. I needed to have it made though as I mentioned in the note.”
“I don’t want to miss your hugs because I’m wearing silver. And how did you know ANYTHING about passing notes to others?”
He laughed and answered honestly. “I told you I was going to research this going steady thing and what to get you. I found something that described that behavior in my reading.”
“Well thank you again. Let me get you Hunter.”
It took a moment and Eric could hear voices as someone helped move Hunter’s medical equipment while Sookie pushed him. Finally, “Hey Eric!”
“Hi Fidget. Are you enjoying the party?”
Hunter laughed at his name from Eric. “I am, even if there are princesses everywhere. I got to eat a burger Lafayette too!”
“Yes, Mommy told me.” ‘That was strange,’ he thought. ‘It just slipped out. Not your Mother told me’ – he’d think later about how his wording changed unconsciously. “That was a treat, yes?”
“Oh yeah, normally like an on my birthday thing. How was your trip?”
Since one night the three of them talked about vampires and Sookie and Hunter had no reservations about the vampire lifestyle, Eric was honest. “Well, for me I got in my travel coffin right after takeoff and I rested until I just woke a few minutes ago in my hotel room in New York.”
“So it’s like a blur or something?”
“I closed my eyes and I was here.”
“Who moved you around?” Hunter continued with the questions and Eric responded to the boy’s curiosity. This was better, he decided, then talking about the day and possibly delving into the reasons for the party. It would kill him to hear Hunter hurt over Marjorie’s situation when he wasn’t around to do anything about it – not that he could do much, but he could help by soothing the hurt as best he could. It was selfish, he knew, since Sookie would be dealing with it likely later tonight and all day tomorrow. Hunter shouted out and startled Eric. “WHOA! You’re the cupcake guy!”
Mustapha laughed. “Yes, names Mustapha. How do you know about the cupcakes?”
Hunter immediately knew his mistake right away. He’d seen this guy in his Reverend’s head when he stopped in with the deposit from the bake sale. Good thing Mommy had moved away while he was talking to Eric about his plane trip – she hated when he did that. “I heard your description from somebody. Whatcha here for?”
“Aren’t you on the phone Hunter?”
“Oops,” He put the phone back up. “Sorry Eric.”
Eric just laughed. “It’s OK. That was Mustapha?”
“Yeah, he’s talking to Marjorie’s Dad now.” Hunter was quiet for a moment and Eric used the time to recall the update he had from Mustapha. According to his PI’s e-mail, he was at the hospital to confirm all the plans for Marjorie were in place. To ensure he’d obtained all the equipment and resources they needed, Mustapha had contacted Marjorie’s father, Tom Kilpatrick, and worked with him and the hospice nurse to ensure everything would be delivered and set-up the next morning just before Marjorie left the hospital via ambulance transport to her home. Medicaid was going to cover some of the costs and Eric would cover the gap – and what extras were added to ensure the most comfort for the girl. That gave him only a small bit of comfort. “You’re helping them, aren’t you? I heard it.”
He answered Hunter’s answer truthfully. “I wanted your friend to be comfortable.” And here it was – the conversation he didn’t want to have with Hunter while he was over 1000 miles away.
“They really appreciate it. I do too. She’s dying you know.”
“I know Hunter, and I’m sorry.”
“I . . . I’m gonna miss her.” His words broke a bit as he spoke and it was like a knife to Eric’s chest.
“You will and I wish I was there to help you through this. Why don’t you go back and focus on your party. I’m sure Marjorie needs to have her friends today. Can you do that for me? I promise when I’m back and can spend time, I’ll help you through this.” Sookie had returned to Hunter’s side when she sensed his distress and she was holding his hand for comfort. Since she was crouched down to Hunter’s level, she’d heard most of Eric’s words and she warmed even more for the man on the phone with her son.
“Ok Eric. Here’s Mommy.”
“I’ll try to call you on Tuesday Fidget.”
Sookie picked up the phone. “Eric?”
“Is he alright?”
“I’ll get him back to the party, oh wait, Lala is coming over with Sam to wheel him back in. Hang on.” He could hear muffled words and movement and she was back on quickly. “OK, he’s going back in but he’s getting tired as is our guest of honor. I should go.”
“OK, it’ll be tomorrow before I can call, about the same time.”
“I’ll need the call; the Rats come in for a meeting with the doctors tomorrow.”
“Will you be there?”
“Yes, mostly because if there’s anything medical they need to know, they don’t bother and depend on me to get it right.”
“Is Hunter being released? Why the meeting?”
“It’s just to discuss his new drug and the results.”
“Do you want Mustapha there?”
“I usually go by myself but you know, it would be nice to have someone in my corner. Is that OK?”
“It’s more than OK.”
“I’ll ask him since he’s here. Have a good night at your Summit Sweetie.”
“I will. I’ll text you if I can.”
“I look forward to our call and your texts.”
“Have a good afternoon my Sookie.”
Eric’s first meeting was with Dr. Ludwig, a healer in the supernatural community. She always attended conferences in the event some sort of fighting broke out – it usually did. Eric had wanted to discuss Hunter and Sookie with her but his schedule hadn’t given him the time before now. They met in Eric’s suite after Pam left for the night. “Thank you for meeting me Dr. Ludwig.”
“Northman, what’s the problem? You look fine to me.”
“First, I require your assurance of confidentiality. You cannot speak of this meeting to anyone.”
“You have that. Go on, you’ve got me curious.”
Eric pulled out a file, Hunter’s medical history. “I have a family I’ve claimed. The boy is terminally ill. I need help.”
“Limits?” Ludwig wanted to know more about how or rather why Eric had claimed a family but she pushed that curiosity down and focused on the medical aspects.
“None. The boy’s mother is a tissue match for the kidney, we need a heart – after you identify the cause of the kidney failure that is. For healing, I’m prepared to donate blood, but not until you believe that’s the right thing to do. If the kidney failure is related to the wrong kind of fast growing cells. . . “
She finished for him. “We don’t want to give him vampire blood and have them grow faster. Definitely, no blood until I approve it.” She scanned the paperwork. “Parish hospital? I want him moved to my own hospital.”
“There’s significant back story. Let me fill you in.”
Eric spoke with Ludwig until they both needed to leave for the meetings. Ludwig was taken with the story and was completely on board to help, though she was curious about Eric’s attachment to a human family. She was going to do what she could with his records and what information Mustapha could continue to get her via his hacking into the hospital database. The problem was access to the boy and testing she could do on her own. Eric committed to finding a way. “I’ll speak to Sookie and glamour the foster family if needed.”
“I make no promises about the boy’s future, but I’ll do whatever I can.”
“I have every confidence in you doctor.”
Dr. Ludwig saw something she never saw in Eric before and it hit her. He was in love with this family. He hadn’t just claimed them as ‘his humans’ as vampires do. They were his family. She’d do whatever she could for them. “I appreciate the confidence. I’ll work with you and them Eric – whatever it takes.”
“Hey Theresa. Is everyone here?”
“Yes, they’re in the waiting room at the end of the hall. I’ll keep an eye on Hunter while you two are in there.”
“Thanks Theresa. Did you two meet?” Theresa and Mustapha both shook their heads. “Oh, sorry. Theresa is Hunter’s favorite nurse and Mustapha is a friend of Eric’s, well now our friend. He’s here to attend the meeting with the Rats and the doctor with me.”
They greeted each other and Mustapha and Sookie went down the hall to the meeting. Sookie knew everyone so she quickly introduced Mustapha and sat down for the meeting. It wasn’t that easy. Mack Rattray started right away. “So his name is Mustapha Kahn, who is he to you?”
“He’s a friend.”
“What kind of friend?”
Sookie cut to the chase since she could hear he was wondering if she and Mustapha were ‘fucking’ as he said in his head. His main concern was that if Sookie married, she would have the means to adopt their little cash cow. His thoughts sickened her but she kept her expression bland as she answered. “We aren’t dating if that’s what you’re getting at. Can we move onto my son’s care?”
Sabrina, the case worker, got her dig in. “He’s not your son Sookie.”
“Fine Sabrina, can we get onto the medical issues?”
Dr. Hendrick agreed with Sookie by speaking up. “Yes, as Sookie said, let’s focus on the medical issues. Sookie, you had a question about the monitors.”
“Yes, they limit his mobility. I would like the ability to remove them when he’s with an adult.”
Denise didn’t like this. It would make it seem like he was less sickly and therefore could leave the hospital. That meant she would have both Johanna, her three year old foster kid, and Hunter in her home. That was not acceptable. “Absolutely not. I won’t allow such a risk to my boy.”
Sookie visibly blanched at her use of the words my boy but kept her response even as she focused on the doctor. “Dr. Hendrick. You know he needs to be up more and walking to rebuild his muscle tone. This is darn near hazardous with the wires. I’m not asking for a complete removal but a way to unhook him from all the wires WHILE he’s in my care or really with any responsible adult.”
Sookie could already hear the doctor worrying about ‘liability’ and not her son’s best interests before he started shaking his head in response. Mustapha could see Sookie was upset by this so he spoke up to help. “Doctor what’s the worst case scenario here? What protection do the monitors provide?”
“Extreme drop in blood pressure and heart rate.”
“So, something that can be seen without monitors if there’s an awake adult? Sookie can watch for listlessness or other changes and commit to hooking him up say twice an hour just in case?”
“Yes, I would say given the success of his new medication that’s enough of a precaution.”
With a nod from her husband, Denise made their feelings known. “We are his legal foster parents and we object!”
Sookie knew this was all about keeping the need for him to be hospitalized and she was angry about it but tried to keep calm. “Denise, Hunter needs more mobility or he’ll have other problems. I’m not talking about removing his monitors – just the ability to have him off the cords for some time each day. Doctor?” She looked to him for help.
“Mack, Denise, I have to agree with Sookie. Medically he will be better off with more mobility. Unfortunately, Medicaid has cut off his physical therapy but Sookie I understand you do his exercises on a daily basis?” She nodded. “That’s good and being away from extra cords will help with that. I’m taking him off constant monitoring and will order that he have a single connection device from the body sensors to the device.” He focused on Sookie. “This is very important. If you’re leaving him, even to use the rest room, he needs to be reconnected.”
“Not a problem doctor. Thank you.”
To show his support, he placed a hand over hers and stated. “No thanks are needed Sookie. It’s the right decision for your son.”
Mustapha took note of the doctor’s comment and stored it away for the day when they could finally start working on the adoption – he was certain Hendricks would be an ally if needed. He also noted how unhappy the Rattrays appeared when they left and he was certain their anger was over something related to keeping Hunter IN the hospital and out of their home. He walked Sookie back to Hunter’s room so he could visit with the boy before his lunch was brought in. It was easy to like Hunter. Just by walking in the room Hunter was smiling at both his mother and Mustapha. “Hiya Mustapha! How are you?”
“I’m good Hunter. You look like you’re in a good mood today.”
Hunter couldn’t say why he was happy – he’d already read from his mother that he was getting off the monitors but Mustapha didn’t know he read minds. He just made something else up. “I had a good time yesterday at the party – still just remembering my Burger Lafayette.”
“Your friend does make a good burger.”
“Mommy any news?”
Sookie went on to explain the doctor’s new orders and Hunter just clapped his hands in excitement. He really wanted to walk again – on his own – and this was the best way to do it. “Don’t tell Eric when he calls.”
“I want to see if he notices when he comes back.”
Hunter was proud of himself for the idea so he crossed his arms on his chest, nodded seriously once and said, “Yep, a test.”
“I won’t tell him. Mustapha?”
“I’ll tell him we attended the meeting and that the details will be waiting for him when he returned.”
“There ya go Hunter. You happy?”
“Yes, Mommy. Thank you Mustapha.”
“Sookie, I can hear the lunch trays arriving. I’ll be heading out since you’ll be leaving shortly. I’m just grabbing lunch and will be back to take care of something at Eric’s request while you’re both gone.” Sookie’s faced bunched together. “Don’t bother asking me, it’s a surprise. Call me if you need anything this week. Anything at all. I have something for Hunter; you can open it after lunch.” He placed a wrapped box on the table and Hunter’s face lit up.
She hugged the mountain of a man before he left and thanked him. It was nice to have another friend on her side.
Eric and Sookie and when available, Hunter, talked or texted as they could over the next few days. A delivery arrived from Eric to the hospital every day for Hunter since Eric figured Sookie wouldn’t get too mad about that. It was a theme. Knowing Hunter would love it, Eric gave into his initial desires and had Mustapha step in for Bobby and procure some electronics; in this case a NintendoDS with one game and a new game was delivered each day – each based on the movies Hunter loved best. To appease his concerns about theft, he had Mustapha go to Hunter’s room and install a new locking mechanism on the closet. The door would swing closed and lock automatically now. The hospital could just bill him for the ‘damage’ to the property. With these gifts and actions, Eric had firmly cemented his place in Hunter’s life as the boy’s favorite person, excluding Mommy of course. Eric had never felt so . . . he’d never FELT so much as when Hunter made his proclamation and he was very relieved that his own petulant child was still dead in the bed next to his when they had that phone conversation – she would have felt his emotional reaction through their bond. For only a moment he worried that he’d bought the boy’s affections but he pushed that aside. A selfless child like Hunter wouldn’t think that way – it was the attention and thought Eric gave him that formed the boy’s high opinion of Eric. Sookie also knew about the special bond forming between them. Not that she would confirm it for Eric at the moment, but having heard Hunter’s thoughts during the week, Sookie also knew it was that Eric cared enough to think of Hunter even while he was away that had the bond forming for her baby. She decided that when Eric returned, she would discuss her telepathy so she could give him all that insight as well.
For Eric, the Summit was as boring as he predicted but he completed his tasks and his Queen was pleased. In fact, after his presentation, a large number of vampires stayed to chat with him on specific issues or strategies indicating that his topic was well received. Now he just wanted this damn Summit over so he could get home. His only highlight was the brief calls he had with Sookie and Hunter. They were becoming an addiction and he was happy to succumb.
On Thursday night Eric rose and dialed Sookie before he even got out of bed. He didn’t bother checking his texts; he had a pretty good idea what they said. Sookie’s gratitude was radiating through the phone as she gushed over his latest delivery. He’d surprised the entire Pediatric ward at the hospital with a fully catered – and renal diet friendly – Thanksgiving Dinner for any families that couldn’t get home. As a thank you, he even included the staff that needed to work for the day. He would never tell Sookie how much it had cost. Since the chef and his assistants were reluctant to give up the day with their families to cook at the hospital the persuasive incentives were steep but he gladly paid only to hear the joy in Sookie’s voice now. Not that he knew, but Sookie did know the bribery and resources needed to cater the meal but she kept it quiet since everyone had enjoyed the day too much to spoil it with a tantrum about cost.
To pull the day together, Mustapha had needed help from the hospital so he coordinated with one of Hunter’s nurses, Theresa, and when he told Sookie that part, he could hear her walking out to thank her as well. With all the chatter about their day, he never realized how long he’d been on the phone until he was looking at the scowling face of his child. He tried to hide the call a bit and explain to Sookie why he was getting off the call so quickly. “I have to run now; I will discuss this with you further at a later time.”
“Yes, later.” Now that he really understood more about the difficulty he was having with Pam, she took no offense to his abrupt departure. She appreciated that he kept Pam out of her life; she didn’t sound like someone she needed in it right now.
In New York however, Pam was pissed but trying to tamp it down. She knew who he’d been talking too, laughing with and fawning over while she stayed in her bed listening. He didn’t even notice she’d risen for the night. Nor did she make any noise; she WANTED to eavesdrop as long as possible. To Pam, his conversation and his obvious obsession were disgusting. Ignoring everything she wanted to say to Eric about ‘his Sookie’ – since she was still working on staying on his good side – she simply offered. “You haven’t gotten dressed yet, and I need a shower. We’re going to be late.”
“It’s just then end of Summit party Pam.”
“With a donor buffet! I want first dibs.”
“Then by all means, use the shower first and get ready to go.”
As soon as she was in the shower, he texted Sookie to explain, but he didn’t need to, he already had one from her:
S: Guess that was Pam waking up. We stayed on too long
E: I could never talk to you for too long, but yes, it was my brat rising. She’s in the shower now so she can get first dibs at the donor buffet tonight.
Sookie really didn’t care about the feeding habits of vampires, they lived on blood and now humans signed up all the time to be donors. Many college students literally made all their extra money just from tips. What concerned her was what she heard happened in addition to feeding, and while it had never come up specifically, going steady meant faithful – at least as far as she believed. They joked about his going exclusive but now she wasn’t so sure. This was also the first time feeding came up in their conversation and she didn’t think text was the best way to go about it.
S: So if she’s in the shower can we talk live again?
E: Vampire hearing, she’ll hear our conversation even while in the shower
There was a long delay and finally she sent
E: Sookie. What’s wrong?
Too quickly she replied with:
S: Not a text thing
He reviewed the texts and quickly concluded
E: The donor buffet? I’m sorry. You seem so comfortable with vampire topics I didn’t realize that would bother you
S: The fact that there is a donor buffet for vampires doesn’t bother me – in general
She quickly backpedaled.
S: Ignore that – go get ready for your party
Her phone rang next and she stepped out of the playroom to answer it. It was Eric and lots of wind. “Where are you?”
“I flew out the window. Tell me what’s bothering you.”
“Window? Aren’t you in a light tight room?”
“The glass panes are treated to block the light, the UV light and this hotel has operating windows. Don’t distract me, what’s wrong?”
There was a heavy sigh before she started. “What little I know of vampires is that you like to . . . that is I’ve heard that when you feed.” She really struggled and spit out, “You play with your food?”
Faithfulness, monogamy. He hadn’t been clear so this was all his fault. “Sookie, going steady means you’re it for me, you know that right?”
“But you have needs and you have to eat. Both of those things haven’t been with me . . . yet”
Oh how he loved hearing that single word again – yet, but he pushed his excitement down – both the emotional and physical excitement and replied. “And I would be lying to you if I said I don’t want you to fulfill both of those things for me, but not yet. When you’re ready we’ll know. For now, I’m completely faithful to you. I have had donor blood while I’ve been here. It’s expected and they don’t order in bagged blood for vampire meetings. That’s what I have at home Sookie, bagged blood. The donor here was just for blood and I was a good little boy and didn’t play with my food.” He added the last bit to lighten the conversation. It worked; he could hear a small giggle escape from her.
“Well good. When my good boy comes home I’ll reward you for that.” And if she chose those words to add sexual tension to the call, it worked.
“Keep that up and I may not be able to control myself when I see you.”
“I’ll meet you in the waiting room, end of the hall.”
“SOOKIE.” His voice was thick as he spoke her name – mostly out of shock. She hadn’t been this forward at all. Granted, they’d spent most of their time with Hunter – or in the ER as they did one night the prior week so their flirting options were chaste. ‘I’ll need to call Hoyt to help me get some additional Sookie alone time – if she wants that of course.’ “You’re killing me woman, but right now I better get back to my room. I only had on sleep pants when I called you and I can see people starting to look up at the half naked floating vampire.”
“I’ll let you go. Sleep pants though? I would have guessed you’d sleep au natural.”
“I’m rooming with Pam.” Truth was, he didn’t even own sleep pants until he was getting ready for this trip. He realized that while he had no problem with nudity and neither did Pam; he wanted to add that layer out of respect for Sookie. Now, even though he hadn’t planned it, the topic had come up and he was pleased. “I’ll text you when we’re back in Louisiana.”
“Travel safely. I can’t wait to see you on Sunday.”
“Same here, I’m pretty sure I hate my bar at the moment since it means extra days away from you.”
On Saturday night, Sookie had arrived for her usual shift at Merlotte’s. She called to her boss as she walked by his office. “Hey Sam, did you have a good day fishing yesterday? Missed you around here.”
He stood to greet her. They hadn’t seen each other since the party at the hospital on Sunday. “I did. I saw you got all the books done, must have been a slow lunch crowd.”
“Yeah, I guess everyone was in Shreveport at the black Friday sales.”
“So tell me more about this new mystery guy I heard Lala and Mrs. Fortenberry going on about.”
She went on to tell Sam how meeting her new beau came about; he was impressed by Hunter’s wish. When she started talking about their first interactions, Sam got pissed. “You mean you’re OK with him buying the contents of your house, but not if I try to help you?”
“Don’t be like that Sam. You know damn well your offer was wrapped in a marriage proposal.”
“And just what do you think this guy wants? A snuggle?”
Her hand collided with his cheek before she even realized she was doing it. “He’s been a perfect gentleman, and he purchased my items before he’d even met me. Do not insinuate that I’m a whore again Sam Merlotte.”
“Sookie, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant.” She’d started taking off her apron indicating she was going to leave. “Stay, please? I know Saturday is your best shift.” Tears were pooling a bit in her eyes as she contemplated his words. She did need the money, even if a certain vampire would be thrilled beyond words for her to quit, it just wasn’t going to work that way.
“I’ll stay, but that hurt Sam.” ‘And now you’ve got me wondering who else thinks I’m whoring with Eric for his gifts. Shit.’
“I’ll stay out of your way. I really am sorry.” She didn’t respond; just wiped the tears from her eyes. “You didn’t tell me his name, all I heard from Mrs. F was Eric.”
“The vampire sheriff?” His voice rose with his anger. “You’re dating the most ruthless vampire in the state, possibly the country? What the fuck are you thinking Sookie? Are you stupid?”
Now the apron did come off. Nobody called her stupid. “I’m pretty sure whore is a step up from stupid Sam. You know how I feel about both those words. I’m outta here.”
“Sookie! Wait . . . please?”
“No. I’ll call you during the week but I really can’t stay now. I’m too pissed at you and I’m certain I’ll say something I regret and end our friendship. I might even call you something horrible, like stupid.”
His hand went to the back of his neck and rubbed – something Sam did when he was very upset. When he tried to speak again, she glared at him while grabbing her purse, and he stopped himself. A second later, she was out the door. ‘Shit. I could have handled that better – but she’s gonna get herself killed with him. I don’t know why Hoyt, Maxine and Lala were so happy for her. He’s a fucking bloodsucker. He’s probably been glamouring her into that perpetual googly-eyed state I hear everyone talking about. Fuck. They have no idea the danger she’s in. Maybe I can plead to Northman directly to let her go.’
Meanwhile, Sookie drove back to the hospital unsure of what she should do. In reality, she needed the money so she should turn around and go back. Right now though, she was too upset to face Sam. He was sorry – she read that from him – but it was also his first true thoughts that came out: She was a stupid whore. That was something that would take a while to get over. Maybe, she thought, she should waitress in Shreveport instead. It wasn’t like waitress jobs were hard to find – she’d seen help wanted in signs in lots of windows. For the moment, she had a small buffer of money she’d kept from the auction profits. Most of the money did go to the hospital, the doctors, the medical supply company and others who were constantly pounding on her virtual door so to speak, but a small amount she kept. She hated to think it, but she needed to have some funds left to deal with what was coming. If she had to hit that for a week or two, she could. When she walked into Hunter’s room, Lala was surprised. Lala stayed with Hunter one Saturday a month and this was his week. “Whatcha doin’ here?”
“Sam and I had a fight. I don’t want to talk about it. Let me get outta my uniform and you can go do something fabulous with your Saturday night.”
“I don’ts thinks so baby doll. I thinks yous needs something fabulous to do. Like Fangtasia fabulous.”
Suprising Eric? That didn’t seem like a good idea. Especially if Pam was there. “I don’t know Lala.”
“Mommy, you should go, you’d make him very happy.”
“What would I even wear? A sundress?”
“Don’t even puts yours ass in the bar. Drive to the back and text your hunk O’ meat. I’m sure he’s gots a back door.”
Maybe a quick visit with Eric is just what she needed. “Ok. Help me get ready?”
“Oh baby doll, you’s gonna knock his socks off when he’s sees ya.”
So that’s how Sookie wound up behind the building where Fangtasia was. Lala was right, there was a back door; so she parked, stood herself next to her car and pulled out her phone.
S: Whatcha doin’
E: Grabbing more booze for the bar – seems the Vampire’s Kiss is very popular. I need more Vodka and Chambord
S: You aren’t serving any of those drinks personally are you?
E: You are the only recipient of this vampire’s kisses
S: Perfect answer for my champion wooer
E: You on break?
She ignored the break comment, not wanting to think about work or non-work at Merlotte’s.
S: Do you want help?
E: Help with what?
S: Your work
E: Are you trying to tease me or confuse me?
S: Open the back door
Only a few seconds later she heard a door open. She’d parked next to Eric’s Vette, the one she’d seen in the magazine, so she was close to the door and he was over to her in a blur. For a few moments, he just stood there wrapping himself around her like he was a big blanket and sniffed. When he got her text to open the door, he couldn’t believe she’d really be here, but she was. The tightening in his chest that he’d become accustomed to when he saw her was working extra hard. He was nearly in pain from the feeling. He was surprised as a realization hit him: This was probably how love felt. For now, he’d keep his revelation to himself and instead, just took in her appearance. His leather coat was covering the top of her dress, but he could tell it was white with red flowers and even without seeing the whole thing, she was adorable. Using his enhanced senses he noted she was reacting to seeing him too: Her heartbeat rose, her face was covered with a red glow and he got a whiff of her arousal, stronger than he’d ever felt it before. Yes, it was good for Eric to know he affected her just as much. Sookie hadn’t realized just how much she’d missed him until just now. Seeing him again made her knees go weak and her lady bits awaken. He truly was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen and he was hers, something that still puzzled her. He broke her out of her thoughts. “What are you doing here? Does this have anything to do with a message I have on the Fangtasia voicemail from Sam?”
“You have a message from Sam?”
“Yes, but I can feel you’re getting cold. Come into my office, I’ll lock the door.”
They settled into the office quickly – and he did lock the door right away. “So why are you here?” He asked as he tried to pull her onto his lap. She resisted, wanting to walk around and have a look.
“I wound up not working tonight and Lala insisted I do something fun. Well, specifically he dressed me up and put me in the car with the purpose of driving here. It was his idea to go to a back door and text you. I really don’t want to go into the bar.”
‘Thank Gods she didn’t go to the bar, not when it’s full of vampires. In that outfit and smelling like she does.’ He thought to himself. “No, the bar is not for you.” He watched her for another moment then asked. “Why aren’t you in my lap?”
The laughter from her at his question was like music. “I’m getting a rare glimpse of your life.”
Now he understood. He thought she was resisting him, but it was her interest in him that had her moving around, eyeballing everything hanging or on a shelf. He stood to give her the tour. Since her eyes were looking up to a painting he’d hung behind the couch in his office he started there. “That was a painting I commissioned about 50 years ago. I sketched what I could and described the rest. It’s an image of my home before I was turned.”
“This was your long house?”
“Yes, it’s very close to what it looked like.”
“And this?” She pointed to a wooden ship on a shelf.
“It’s a carving I made – a replica of a ship we used to go a Viking. I frequently work with wood as an outlet. I have many of these.” He’d moved to stand close behind her and wrapped an arm around her waist. He really had missed her the past week.
“Hunter would love something you made like that.” She’d turned to look at another wall and he moved with her, not wanting any distance. “And this?” She pointed to a sword he had hanging over the bookshelf.
“That one I purchased about 100 years ago. The sword from my human life is in one of my homes.”
“I’d love to see it sometime.”
“My home or the sword?”
She spun around and he added his other arm, completely embracing her now. “Yes.” She toyed with a chain he had on. The pendant had fallen into his shirt. “And this?” She never got around to asking him what it was the few times she’d seen it. It looked like a claw of some kind. When he pulled it out she was confused.
“I changed it – I ordered this one with your pendant.” As he could still see the confusion on her face, he explained. “I told you you’re my angel, this is an angel wing. Now I have you with me all the time.”
“That’s so sweet.”
“You’re supposed to keep that quiet. I can see drastic measures are needed; I think I have some duct tape in my drawer.” With his long arms, he kept one around her and used the other to reach to the top right drawer of his desk and pulled out the duct tape.
She slapped his arm and the tape fell back in. “You think you’re funny.”
“I think you’re beautiful and I can’t believe how much I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
He nuzzled her while he spoke, inhaling her scent, marking her with his. He thought she radiated tonight with her white dress and bright smile and he leaned back to take her in. “You’re like my own personal sun, min Röðull my Sookie. I want to bottle you up and let out the essence whenever you aren’t around.”
“Your words melt me. Your sun, your angel. I’m not worthy.”
“You’re more than worthy. I hate that I have to work tonight and I don’t want you to be seen here.” She didn’t take offense. It was Eric protecting her; she knew this. Whatever her scent was – they didn’t know – but what they did know was that it was too enticing to vampires to take a chance. After he’d gotten his fill of her – for the moment, he asked, “Will you take a quick flight with me? I want to show you something, but I can’t be away too long.” She nodded. “Good. I just need a minute to tell Pam that I’m running an errand.” When he went out the back Sookie looked at him strangely. “Pam is out front – this way I can speak to her without others picking up your scent.”
He returned quickly and they went out the back door. She wasn’t sure about this flight business, but decided to focus on being held and not the flight itself. When he walked them to the trunk of his car, he surprised her by opening it and producing a blanket. “I know we were going to get one of your Gran’s quits, but I put a blanket in all my cars just in case. I’m going to wrap you up for the flight.”
“OK.” And wrap her he did. “I feel like a burrito.”
“Ah, then do I get to eat you all up?”
“Only if my good boy has time.” He growled in response. “Did you just growl at me?”
“Get used to it.” And with that he was up in the sky. It was only about 5 minutes before they were landing. “Did you even open your eyes at all?”
“Nope.” She answered while he started unwrapping her.
“Well, open them now.”
They were at the same spot on his property from their prior drive. Only now, there was something else there. A large oval gazebo had been erected near the lake. She thought it was all open, but as they walked to it, she could see that glass panels had been put into the openings. “The glass can be exchanged for screens in the summer.” He explained as he adjusted something on the wall. “I had a simple baseboard heater added – so you won’t be cold out here again.” He turned to point to the back wall. “If we have more time when we visit again, there’s a fireplace too. Since this is a custom gazebo, the door next to the fireplace is a small powder room for your needs.”
“You built this for me?”
“Well, I built it for us. You seemed to like the lake, just not the cold. The heater is most certainly for you.”
“I do like it here.” They sat together on the porch swing he’d had installed in the center and he covered them with the blanket from her flight. She scanned the space and noted the deep benches that lined the walls and the ceiling fan above their heads. It was a very cozy and comfortable place to escape.
“I can fly here from the hospital in under 10 minutes too. That is, if you ever wanted to make a quick trip out.”
“I love it.” She pressed into him a bit and grabbed a hand as well. “So I’m all caught up on the Summit from our calls – except for the last night. How was the party?”
“Boring.” Leaning back enough so he could see her face, she raised a brow at him, challenging his statement. “It was. Same boring vampires as every other vampire meeting. I’m sure you’d enjoy the outfits, but not much else. Not even that many people were dancing.”
“I’m sure Pam enjoyed herself.” His face turned dangerous. “Oh Jesus Eric. I didn’t mean to make you mad.”
“I am mad at her actions that night; it didn’t end well for her as a result.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Clearly he did as he started sharing the events of the last night. As they’d discussed, Pam got ready and left for the party right away. Eric had lingered in the hotel room but eventually went too – mostly to just make an appearance and say goodbye to the few vampires he’d enjoyed seeing again. He was back to the room by midnight to pack though. By 1AM he was wondering where Pam was, since she also needed to pack – and given what she’d purchased while they were in New York, it was going to take her a while. As a reminder on their timetable, he sent her a quick text before he headed out to meet Stan Davis, the current King of Texas. They had some business interests in common so they agreed to meet before the Summit ended. That meeting was over shortly after 3AM so he went into the party one final time, only to see Pam was still there.
Sookie was on the edge of her seat listening to the story. It would be exciting to hear except she could see that Eric was quite upset by whatever happened. She knew they returned on time from the texts she had from Eric, but something had happened in between their call on Thursday night and the flight out early Friday morning. So she waited while he collected his thoughts.
“I approached her quickly reminding her of our upcoming departure; at this point she only had 30 minutes to pack her bags. She informed me she’d sent an email to Bobby to have him pack for her; then she turned and went back to her conversation. I needed to get her attention, so I literally needed to use a maker’s call – a gentle one.”
“Explain that please?”
“Makers can call their children to them by the blood bond we share. I could literally send out a signal to Karin right now, and she would need to start making her way to me. It would be a compulsion and resistance is painful. It’s all part of the magic that enables me to command both my children.” After Sookie nodded in understanding, he took an unnecessary breath and continued the story. “She started yelling at me in the elevator; at least we were alone. I had to explain to her, AGAIN, that Bobby no longer works for her at all; he was even instructed to delete communications from Pam. She was pissed. I could feel her determination and I guessed she was plotting a new way to get home, but I put an end to that. Bottom line: She was taking the same early flight with me and she now had 25 minutes to pack. Anything not packed was being left as a donation.”
Sookie gasped then got a puzzled look. “Why not just command her to behave, I don’t get it. You could command her to work as you need her to at the bar.”
“I could, but what purpose would that serve?” Sookie was still clearly puzzled by his comments. “Sookie, did anyone ever need to apologize to you for something you did?”
“Sure, Jason teased me and Gran would make him apologize.”
“Did you really think he was sorry?” Being a mindreader meant Sookie knew he was never really sorry but she didn’t want to get into that tonight since they had only a short time.
“So if I forced her to do everything from a maker’s command it would be just as false. I want to teach her to want to be a decent person, someone I can like. Not someone I force into submission.”
“I get that – you’re right. So how did she take the threat of her clothes being donations?”
“Oh, she was livid since she’s also been cut off from my credit cards; she used her own money for the shopping. She finally realized her predicament and started packing. I left her to her work and simply waited for her in the lobby while I took care of some business on my phone. Pam’s been especially difficult since New York. My favorite was when she tried to give me the silent treatment; little did she know it was actually a nice break. Then my niggling child tried to play dutiful daughter, all while she was still seething. Her forced smile even scared some of the Fangtasia patrons – and they’re accustomed to fangs! To survive the weekend I told her to stand at the door and not come into the bar until it closed. Not being in the same room is best. So the net net of her behavior is that once you’ve gained enough weight to wear a size 4, you have about 40 outfits waiting for you. I had Bobby arrange for packaging and delivery.”
“YOU DID NOT!”
“I most certainly did, and I will thoroughly enjoy seeing you in my spoiled child’s clothes.” He kept to himself that he wanted her to gain even more weight – at this point – getting her into a 4 would be an accomplishment. “I’m worried about your health and I hope this is an incentive to eat more.”
“I’m fine. I needed to lose weight.”
“ABSOLUTELY NOT! You know Jessica was hysterical last Saturday when she saw you.”
“Oh I know. She and Tara and Lala have been over once a day since then with dinner.”
“Yes, tomorrow is my day.” She sucked in air in shock.
“I have nothing to say to that right now, I don’t want to argue on your first night back.”
“Good.” After a moment he broached another topic he’d wanted to discuss. “Sookie, you should know something else I learned while I was away.”
“I had Indira and Mustapha investigating the Judge that released Jason. I can’t find evidence of crimes committed by the lawyer, Portia, but we discovered the judge knowingly called that travesty of a trial when Detectives Farner and Sheridan were scheduled in Baton Rouge for court. He left an electronic trail. Another Judge in Shreveport is planning to press charges on behalf of well mostly you since he knowingly let Jason out on the street and he went straight for you.”
“I don’t know what to say about that.”
“You don’t have to say anything. It’s all handled. I wanted to kill him, but my friend, the judge I mentioned, talked to me about that and the suspicions it could raise. I refrained with difficulty and am hoping the justice system will prevail.”
“I’m glad you didn’t go after him. He sounds like a vampire hater and that would just encourage his and others’ beliefs that they’re right.”
He chuckled. “You sound like Charles, my judge friend. You should also know that while your Bon Temps Sheriff didn’t knowingly participate, his lack of attention to his job extended Bobby’s stay and more importantly, Bobby’s ability to have you protected. He ordered that Bobby’s lawyer couldn’t see him until he was there – then he proceeded to stay at Merlottes for hours. He was there until Maxine’s call came in and since he was closer he had no excuse.”
“Even then he had Kevin pick up Jason so he still didn’t get to the station.”
“I need you to be aware that our lawyer is officially calling his actions into question.”
“If it was just me I’d say no; I’ve known the man my whole life – but this kept Bobby in jail. Just keep me informed I guess.”
They sat rocking in the gazebo for a short while just enjoying the closeness. All too soon though Eric knew he needed to get back to the bar. He’d been gone for too many days. “We need to head back to the bar.”
She sighed but stood and waited for him to stand as well and he moved to press against her back with his hands wrapped around her shoulders. Then they just stayed there staring at the water for a few minutes until Eric called her name. “Sookie?”
“Yeah?” She tilted her head to look up at him.
“May I kiss you?”
She smirked at him. “I’ve been waitin’ silly.”
He quickly moved his body to press against her front as he bent down towards her mouth. Moving the arm from her shoulders to her waist, he held her tightly and moved the other arm so he could gently touch her chin, guiding her mouth towards his. That action had Sookie swooning and their lips hadn’t even touched yet. Before she could recover from that, she felt his mouth descend onto hers and while his kiss was gentle, his grip was not. She knew he wanted this badly and he was not letting go anytime soon and that was a good thing because she wanted it just as much. After just a few seconds of innocent kissing, his tongue joined the party and she opened her mouth in response to the request. When their tongues touched, an electric current ran between them. Her whole body responded to the kiss: Goose bumps sprang up, her nipples stiffened from the attention and she could feel her girly bits requesting their own party. Eric could feel her reaction and he was quite happy about it but to be sure, he pulled back leaving her wanting more or giving her the chance to back off. She only leaned in closer for more so he descended a second time. This kiss was just as full of passion and his own ah . . . reaction was growing; if he didn’t stop soon, it was going to be too difficult to prevent himself from going beyond a kiss. He didn’t want that, well of course he wanted THAT, but not here, not now. Reluctantly, he pulled back allowing Sookie to breathe and putting some much needed distance between his body and hers. They were both on fire.
“Wow indeed min Röðull.” He was still touching her arms, rubbing his hands up and down the leather of his coat that she was wearing while they both calmed. “I need to get you to your car even though I don’t want to.”
“Neither do I, but if we stay here and kiss again right now, we’re going to do something I would regret. I mean, I would regret happening so soon.”
“You DO? The man who has women crawling to him?”
“You’re special Sookie; I want you – obviously, but not like that. You aren’t a fangbanger looking for any vampire simply to be bitten. I want to have the relationship, not use you and toss you aside.”
“That’s sad you say you’re using them but I think the opposite is the truth. I hate that for you.”
“It’s reality and I don’t want that anymore.”
“I know, you’ve said that and I believe you.”
“Let’s go while I have the willpower to resist you.” He wrapped her in the burrito blanket; then offered. “I can drop you at the hospital and have your car delivered.”
“No, I’m good to drive and Hunter will not be happy to find out you were there and he didn’t get a visit even if he’s asleep.”
Eric was trying to enjoy his last moments as much as possible so he focused only on his flying and Sookie. That’s how he was surprised by Pam waiting in the parking lot for him. She’d entered the office about 30 minutes after he left to collect the booze Eric told her to get for the bar. The scent was intoxicating! Even over the stench in the bar, she thought she smelled something wonderful on him when he came out to inform her of his errand and now she knew she hadn’t imagined it. That scent – she wondered if it was Sookie and if they were coming back together. Deciding she needed to get these answers, she returned to the front door to check IDs but kept a very tight bead on the bond. Eric was content then very happy and shortly after she could feel he was getting close so she went out the back door and waited. Trying to be on her very best behavior she greeted him, “Master.”
“Pamela, who’s on the door?”
He nodded. “Well, why don’t you get back there?”
Even Sookie glared at him for being that rude and spoke over his next sentence. “Ms. Ravenscroft, it’s nice to meet you, I’m Sookie Stackhouse.”
Pam wanted to snipe, call her his bloodbag, anything to insult Eric’s insipid pet, but she reminded herself that she needed to buy some time and instead made an attempt at appearing agreeable. “Please call me Pam.” Both Sookie and Eric were reeling from Pam’s pleasant behavior. It actually unnerved Eric a bit since she was such a bitch towards humans. He never wanted them to meet and now that they had – he still wasn’t happy about it. One thing was most concerning: Pam wasn’t surprised by Sookie’s presence and he would be getting to the bottom of that after Sookie left. Taking him out of his thoughts, Pam continued to talk to Sookie. “So we should get together and gossip about Eric – get our nails done or something.”
“That’s a nice offer Pam, but I don’t have that much time on my hands.”
Eric cut Pam off from responding, “Yes, speaking of time Sookie, you should probably get back.” He spoke while he was unwrapping her from the blanket. Even though she’d spoken pleasantly before, Pam sneered at her master taking care of the human. His hands worked gently to unravel her and they giggled – GIGGLED – a few times when the blanket got snagged on something. Finally Pam’s torture was over as Eric tucked the blanket into his trunk. “I’ll be in shortly Pam; you can wait for me in my office.”
‘I’m being dismissed! So he can have a moment with a bloodbag.’ Pam fumed in her head. ‘I’ll get you Sookie.’ To continue her show of being a good child, she plastered a fake smile on her face and bid Sookie a good night then she returned to Eric’s office.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”
“I’ll be at the hospital right after first dark.” He gave her a quick kiss.
“I can’t wait for the sun to set.”
“Wow, we’re even thinking the same now.”
Check out the Secret’s page for inside info / Mags’ perspective on the chapter.
Röðull means sun in Old Norse from English – Old Norse Dictionary compiled by Ross G. Arthur